Tuesday 21 February 2017

Review: All About Mia - Lisa Williamson

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson, published by David Fickling Books on 2nd February 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
From no. 1 Bestselling YA author Lisa Williamson, comes another insightful and unputdownable teen drama - All About Mia. A brilliant look into the mind of a teenager stuck in the middle.

‘All About Mia’ was a really fun and entertaining contemporary YA read. I finished it in one sitting because once I’d turned the first page, I was utterly absorbed into the story. I was surprised just how much I enjoyed it actually but I think it was exactly the sort of book I was looking for at the time.

The story is about three sisters and is narrated by middle-sister Mia. At the start of the book, her older sister Grace is coming home early from her gap year travels, while her younger sister Audrey is focused on school and swimming. Mia falls in the middle and this is precisely where she doesn’t want to be. She is the rebel of the family and is always the one pushing the limits with her mum and dad. She does stupid things and she can be pretty wild at times but as we get to know Mia we see that a lot of her behaviour is just a defence she puts up. She doesn’t always know where she fits in and what her niche is and this often causes problems, particularly with Grace who has always been the perfect daughter. 

I loved this book because the story was so relatable. I don’t have sisters but I do have two siblings and I am a middle child and while I can’t claim to be anything like Mia at all, I could identify with her in a lot of ways. Lisa Williamson’s writing and characterisations are spot on too and I really enjoyed seeing how the family dynamics changed and evolved in the book. 

Audrey was my favourite sister and I’m glad she got a bit more page time in the second half of the story. She is always trying to keep the peace between her older siblings and sometimes gets forgotten because she’s not always the loudest or the liveliest. I thought she was a very sweet character though and I liked her focus and determination.

A brilliant read about love and family and fitting in. I would highly recommend.      

Thursday 16 February 2017

Review: Dramarama - E. Lockhart

Dramarama by E. Lockhart, published by Hot Key Books on 9th February 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
Two theater-mad, self-invented, fabulositon Ohio teenagers.

One boy, one girl.
One gay, one straight.
One black, one white.


‘Dramarama’ sounded like a fun and entertaining read, incorporating one of my favourite things…the theatre! The story is about two friends who get accepted into a drama summer school. We see them on their journey there with dreams, hopes and aspirations of becoming big stars and escaping their small town lives. The narrative unfolds from the perspective of Sarah, or Sayde as she likes to be known. She has always felt that she is destined for bigger and greater things and through her love of the theatre she believes that she has a chance at becoming something more. Her best friend Demi is quite a character and comes across as thoroughly flamboyant and over the top. I wasn’t sure that he ever really grew on me throughout the book and some of his actions near the end of the story were questionable.

What I loved the most about this title were all the theatre references to shows and stars that I’ve seen, enjoyed and loved myself. I couldn’t identify with the longing to become a star in front of the curtain but I could identify with the pleasure and enjoyment that Sayde feels for an amazing song or a well-choreographed routine. It made me want to rush out immediately and buy a ticket to go and see something. The author states that she attended a summer drama school herself when she was younger and I think this probably helped to make the experience in the book more authentic.

I can’t say however, that the story itself particularly resonated with me. It was light, it was fluffy and apart from one or two scenes in the book, it stayed that way for the most part. I felt that the plot was a bit flat and I kept waiting for something more to happen. I wasn’t hugely keen on the ending either which I felt didn’t have enough drama. It was a quick read which I finished in one evening but it’s not a book that I’ll want to come back to in the future.   

Monday 13 February 2017

Review: The Mystery of the Painted Dragon - Katherine Woodfine

The Mystery of the Painted Dragon by Katherine Woodfine, published by Egmont on 9th February 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
When a priceless painting is stolen, our dauntless heroines Sophie and Lil find themselves faced with forgery, trickery and deceit on all sides!

Be amazed as the brave duo pit their wits against this perilous puzzle! Marvel at their cunning plan to unmask the villain and prove themselves detectives to be reckoned with – no matter what dangers lie ahead . . .

It’s their most perilous adventure yet!

'The Mystery of the Painted Dragon' is the third book in the Sinclair's Mysteries series about friends Sophie and Lil who repeatedly find themselves embroiled in mystery and mayhem.  The series is in a similar vein to Robin Stevens's Murder Most Unladylike books, although this is aimed at a middle grade readership.  I haven't actually read the previous two books about the intrepid duo but I don't think it really mattered as the story was standalone and the characters were easy to get to know.  I do now want to get my hands on them though because this was such an enjoyable read that I'm sure the first two books are equally as good.    

The story finds Lil and Sophie investigating the theft of a painting called 'The Green Dragon'. This throws them into the path of another young female and a budding artist called Leo.  As the girls follow a series of puzzling clues and suspicion is cast on a number of different characters, it becomes clear that danger lies in wait around every corner.  They also have the shadowy figure of the 'Baron' to contend with.  Ooh, I love a good baddie!

I adored the historical setting of the book, with the story being set in 1909.  It's a time when girls are trying to follow their dreams but society is still geared towards the advancement of men.  Leo is a prime example of this as she tries to pursue a career in the arts, while also appeasing her family. 

This was a fab read with a great mystery, fun adventure and lovely characters.  I've wanted to read this series for ages and I wasn't disappointed.  The next in the series is published in October and will be called 'The Mystery Peacock'.  That gives me plenty of time to acquaint myself with the first two books about Lil and Sophie and the beginning of their adventures together.

Thursday 9 February 2017

Review: Ink - Alice Broadway

Ink by Alice Broadway, published by Scholastic on 2nd February 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
Every action, every deed, every significant moment is tattooed on your skin for ever. When Leora's father dies, she is determined to see her father remembered forever. She knows he deserves to have all his tattoos removed and made into a Skin Book to stand as a record of his good life. But when she discovers that his ink has been edited and his book is incomplete, she wonders whether she ever knew him at all.


'Ink' is a captivating read and a marvellous debut from author Alice Broadway.  The first in a trilogy, I was engrossed in Leora's story from the very first chapter.  Broadway writes with an easy style which immediately drew me into the book and I thought that both her plot and characterisation were spot on. I really only meant to read a few chapters but I ended up devouring the story in one sitting.

The premise of the story is a society in which each individual tattoos their life story onto their bodies.  The tattoos are a permanent record of their names, family trees and significant others.  They show that they are a good person with nothing to hide.  Certain people within their society are able to read tattoos, of which Leora is one.  When someone dies, their tattoos stand as a testament to the person and if they are deemed worthy, are made into a Skin Book which the family are able to keep as a record of their life.  At the beginning of the book, Leora's father dies and much of the story revolves around whether or not he is entitled to have his own book.  In the process, Leora discovers secrets about her father that lead her to conclude that she may not have truly known what kind of person he was.

The way of life of the society is threatened by Blanks.  People who do not carry tattoos on their skin.  They are considered to be subversive and dangerous.  Leora has always been warned against them until she begins to discover a threatening connection of her own to them.

'Ink' was a brilliant read which felt very fresh and original.  I haven't come across a YA book that I've enjoyed quite as much as this in such a long time.  I'm excited to see where Leora's story will take her and I'm full of anticipation about the next steps of her journey.  A cracking read which I would recommend without hesitation.   

Monday 6 February 2017

Review: Take the Key and Lock Her Up - Ally Carter

Take the Key and Lock Her Up by Ally Carter, published by Orchard Books on 26th January 2017

Goodreads synopsis:
Grace has discovered that she's the lost princess of Adria ... but some people would prefer she stay lost. With her brother's life hanging in the balance and secret assassins everywhere, life on Embassy Row has never been more dangerous.

Ally Carter does it again with what is without a doubt the best instalment of the whole series.  I've been desperate to read 'Take the Key and Lock Her Up' ever since the almighty cliff-hanger ending of 'See How They Run', when Grace discovered that she was the lost princess of Adria.  I dived into this book and devoured it in one sitting because it is pretty much impossible to put down.  Carter doesn't let her foot off of the break once as the story speeds along at an incredible pace.  I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish.

Grace is a terrific character and one who I've grown to like and admire more with each book.  She is tough and determined and pretty kick-ass.  All of the struggles and adversity she has had to face have only made her stronger and more single-minded.  She will do anything to protect the people she loves, even if it means sacrificing herself in the process.  She is also very unpredictable which makes her an exciting character to read about because you are never sure what she will end up doing next. Throughout the story she faces danger from every corner and you are left guessing about where the true threat actually lies.  Is it with the Royal Family or the shadowy Society?

Her romance with Alexei is one of my favourite things about this book.  Their relationship has evolved from friendship to love and I adore the moments when they are being protective of each other, as well as all of those sizzling kisses. I was really rooting for them and I wanted Grace to finally get her happy ending in his arms.  I also liked the way that Grace's other friends rallied around her and helped in whatever way they could.  They are determined not to let her face the danger alone.   

The story hurtled from one thrilling escapade to another and I was utterly glued to the pages.  I had no idea what was going to happen next or who was going to make it out alive.  I loved 'Take the Key and Lock Her Up' and I'm only sad that such a fabulous series has come to an end.  Hopefully Ally Carter will be back soon with another new adventure.
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